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Bullocks to race past horses? Maharashtra to see if bovine can be racing breed

mumbai Updated: Nov 04, 2017 10:40 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A bullock cart race in Ludhiana.

A bullock cart race in Ludhiana.(HT File Photo)

If the Maharashtra government has its way, bullocks will be the new racing breed on par with horses.

After the high court extended its ban on bullock cart racing last month, terming the sport cruel to the animal (since the bull is not anatomically suited for racing), the state government is preparing fresh ground to re-start bullock cart races, popular in rural Maharashtra.

The state’s animal husbandry department has now set up an expert group to study the anatomy and physiology of different breeds of bulls and bullocks in comparison with horses. This group will also examine and compare physiological and bio-chemical changes in bulls, bullocks and horses when they run; study draught ‘capacity of bulls and bullocks in anatomical comparison with horses’.

“The study group will submit expert opinion regarding technical aspects such as anatomical, bio-chemical, clinical, surgical interventions and aids for bulls and bullock as race animals,” said the government resolution issued on Thursday, laying down terms of reference for the committee.

The reason behind this comparison, as the government order points out, is that the interim high court order makes a reference to the Supreme Court order of 2014, which notes that “given its physiology, a bull unlike horse does not have attributes for racing”.

“The study group has been given a month to submit its report and they have been asked to take expert opinions from across the globe on the issue. Such a study report that compiles research, trials done so far can help the state government challenge the reasoning stated in the court ban,” said a senior official.

The BJP-led government had made bullock cart racing a matter of pride and cultural tradition. It had amended the Centre’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act on the lines of what the Tamil Nadu government had done to regularise Jallikatu earlier this year. However, despite framing rules for this Act, the high court in an interim order had extended the ban. Animal husbandry minister Mahadev Jankar had said such races are necessary for survival of native breeds.